After decades of living in the frozen tundra, I take pride in knowing the precautions needed to survive the harsh winter climate. Obviously, to those of us who’ve braved the north, a home’s water pipes must be properly insulated in unheated areas and they need some extra TLC to survive the extended freeze. “Duh,” you might say.

However, when I moved to Texas to escape the brutal winters up north, I was in for quite a surprise. Naively, I thought I was home free when it came to anything cold. But, with a few overnight freezes in January, I quickly learned that my water pipes needed the same TLC in the Lone Star State.

The domestic water supply in my house and the lines to my swimming pool all use PEX tubing; the flexible, durable plastic piping system that bend with each change in direction and even expand and contract to help protect against damage from frozen water in the pipes. However, even with PEX pipe, it is still important to follow the same rules with freeze protection and insulation.

Preventing frozen pipes only takes a few minutes whether you live up north or down south. A few simple and inexpensive steps can save lots of time and money down the line.

Here are some tips my plumber shared with me that are important to remember when you live in an area that may encounter temperatures below freezing.

-      Drain water from swimming pool and sprinkler supply lines

-      Drain and remove hoses from outdoor areas, and close the inside valves that supply the outdoor hose bibs. Keep the valve open so any water left in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.

-      Insulate both hot-water and cold-water pipes in basements, attics, crawl spaces and garages.

-      In Minnesota, it is appropriate to use pipe sleeves, heat tapes and heat cables to insulate exposed water lines, but here in Texas towels and blankets can offer the same pipe protection since there aren’t prolonged stretches of freezing.


What advice do you share with your customers, friends and family about protecting against the winter freeze? I’d love to hear from you.